Adventure Ecology uses the magic and excitement of unique field missions to educate, entertain and raise awareness of environmental and social issues whilst driving innovative real world solutions.
Adventure Ecology’s long-term vision is to create a global, youth-based community of change-makers that learn, share, speak and most importantly act to address our global sustainability issues in order to promote a greater respect, connection and responsibility for our Planet, its environment, species and people.
Adventure Ecology tells adventurous stories that educate, entertain and promote a new ‘smart’ thinking for a better ‘Planet 2.0’.
The Plastiki began her adventure nearly four years ago after taking inspiration from a report issued by UNEP called ‘Ecosystems and Biodiversity in Deep Waters and High Seas’ and Thor Heyerdahl’s epic 1947 expedition, The Kon-Tiki. True to Adventure Ecology’s values, a compelling and pioneering expedition was needed that would not only inform, but would also captivate, activate and educate the world that waste is fundamentally inefficient design.
With more efficient design and a smarter understanding of how we use materials, principally plastic, waste can be transformed into a valuable resource, in turn helping to lessen our plastic fingerprints on the world’s oceans.
To undertake the Plastiki expedition Adventure Ecology was not only influenced by the principles of ‘cradle-to-cradle’ design and biomimicry but brought together a multi-faceted team from the fields of sustainable design, boat building, architecture and material science in order to foster a collection of new ideas and cutting edge technologies that allow the Plastiki to be a truly unique, one-of-a-kind expedition vessel.
It’s about recognizing that waste is fundamentally a design flaw (it does not appear in nature) It’s about re-thinking waste as a resource. It’s about cyclical ‘cradle-to-cradle’ philosophies rather than linear thinking when it comes to how we design our world. It’s about a better understanding of the lifecycle’s and materials used in our everyday lives. It’s about being curious and open, being prepared to let go of assumptions in order to undertake a new ‘Planet 2.0’ way of thinking and acting. It’s about acknowledging that we don’t have all the answers and that nobody is as smart as everybody. It’s about being collaborative and curious so to engage multiple perspectives, skills, opinions and organizations. It’s about constantly learning, unlearning and re-learning. It’s about re-integrating back into the web of life by recognizing and reducing our human fingerprints on the natural world. It’s about moving on from just articulating the problems and inspiring action of the solutions. It’s about encouraging the world to reduce, reuse, recycle and rethink more of the planets natural resources. It’s about delivering a spectacular global “Message in a Bottle”.
- It is estimated that almost all of the marine pollution in the world is comprised of plastic materials. The average proportion varied between 60% and 80% of total marine pollution.
- In many regions in the northern and southern Gyres, plastic materials constitute as much as 90 to 95% of the total amount of marine debris.
- Scientists estimate that every year at least 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die when they entangle themselves in plastic pollution or ingest it.
- According to Project Aware, 15 billion pounds of plastic are produces in the U.S. every year, and only 1 billion pounds are recycled. It is estimated that in excess of 38 billion plastic bottles and 25 million Styrofoam cups end up in landfill and although plastic bottles are 100% recyclable, on average only 20% are actually recycled.
Adventure Ecology has worked with a number of experts in the field of boat building, architecture, sustainable design, engineering, materials, and innovative design technology, including:
Michael Pawlyn – Concept architect Andy Dovell – Naval architect Andy Fox – Boat builder Nathaniel Corum – Cabin architect and sustainability consultant Jason Iftakhar – Solar array designer and consultant
Adventure Ecology is on a mission to beat waste by thinking smart and showcasing how waste can be used as a valuable resource through our use of the everyday, highly consumed and iconic ‘pin up’, the plastic bottle.
- The Plastiki is engineered almost entirely from 12,500 reclaimed plastic bottles that provide 68% of the boat’s buoyancy.
- The Plastiki is a modern vessel that has taken advantage of all available sustainable design technologies and cutting edge materials to achieve the project brief.
- A unique recyclable plastic material made from srPET makes up her super structure
- The mast is a reclaimed aluminum irrigation pipe
- The one-of-a-kind sail is hand-made from recycled PET cloth
- The secondary bonding is reinforced using a newly developed organic glue made from cashew nuts and sugar cane
- The Plastiki is ‘off-the-grid’ relying primarily on renewable energy systems including; solar
panels, wind and trailing propeller turbines, bicycle generators, a urine to water recovery and rain water catchment system and a hydroponic rotating cylinder garden.
Length Over All Beam Weight Mast Heights No. of bottles Average speed
60ft 23ft 12 tons 40/60 ft 12,500 approx. 5 knots
The Plastiki’s design and sail plan only permits her to sail with the wind just forward of her beam – she is a down-wind vessel.
In keeping with her design ethos she has no centreboards so her leeway is significant – in other words she sometimes goes sideways as well as forward.
We are predicting an average speed for the passage of approx. 5 knots
She cannot tack, she must always gybe (putting the back of the boat through the eye of the wind rather than the bows)
These sources of energy will be efficiently controlled by the most up to date technology provided by technology partner HP.
- Solar panels.
- Wind turbines.
- Trailing sea turbines.
- Bicycle generators.
- A vacuum water evaporator for desalination.
- A urine-to-water recovery system and rain water catchment.
- A separating toilet and waste storage with evaporative technology for weight reduction.
- Hydroponic Vertical Garden.
- The electrical system is based around a bank of six 12 volt batteries.
Wireless, solar powered instruments that show the wind’s strength direction and the boat’s speed. GPS position fixing devices.
Inmarsat satellite communication systems for voice and data – calls and emails and internet access for weather information.
Electronic charts for navigation.
HP notebook PCs for monitoring biometrics data, tracking power consumption, navigation, video editing, blogging and more
HP IPAQ smartphones for personal blogging
HP media drives for data capture
- Two wind turbines mounted on the back of the boat.
- Solar panels fixed to the roof of the cabin.
- Solar panels on gimbals at the back of the boat that can be angled towards the sun.
- A hydro-generator that can be trailed behind the boat.
- The boat will be self-sufficient using these forms of renewable energy that will continuously charge the bank of storage batteries onboard.
On a watch system – they will take turns in teams of 2, changing the watch every few hours day and night.
The on watch crew will be responsible for steering, keeping a lookout, navigation and changing sails as required.
There will also be a rota of cleaning and cooking to keep the ship a happy ship.
The team will be using a satellite based tracking system called X Tracker which will transmit the vessel’s exact position, course and speed every few hours to an online viewer that will show Plastiki’s position and track on a chart-based graphic
www.theplastiki.com will showcase this information and content from the crew, captured and created using HP technology, including biographies and crew updates.
During the voyage, the Plastiki will explore a number of environmental hotspots such as, soon to be flooded island nations, damaged coral reefs and the challenges faced by our acidifying oceans and marine debris, in particular plastic pollution, in our oceans.
However, because the Plastiki has limitations on her sailing abilities it is extremely difficult and indeed unrealistic to pre-determine her exact route or ports of call as this will be totally dependent on weather systems and wind direction, neither of which are predictable for a period greater than 5 days in advance. An onshore weather router who knows the boat’s capabilities will be liaising with the crew aboard Plastiki in order to help realise the stops en route that are envisaged but they simply cannot be guaranteed. What is definite is that Plastiki will be leaving from San Francisco and finishing in Sydney. It remains the ambition to stop at the Line Islands and Tuvalu, however these cannot be confirmed until the boat is actually approaching these ocean areas.
Approximately 3 months
A stove is fitted for cooking hot food, this uses bottled gas.
Meal times will provide a social focus for the day with the crew eating at least one meal per day all together.
Some fresh food will be grown on a vertical garden that will hang from the back (mizzen) mast. With no refrigeration onboard there will be a reliance on food that is nutritional but that can be kept in a suspended state – such as dehydrated and tinned food. Fishing tackle is also being carried to supplement the diet with fresh fish.
Enough fresh water will be carried onboard for the entire voyage based on around 4ltrs per person per day.
Water will also be caught from special drains on the cabin roof when it rains – one tropical shower can fill the tanks again.
Definitely when it rains! Otherwise it will be seawater showers with a minimalist fresh water rinse to avoid salt sores. Personal hygiene will be of great importance living in such close quarters.
The cabin has 6 bunks where the crew can sleep.
From a sailing point of view it will be crossing the ITCZ (Doldrums) which are positioned between 2 and 6 degrees north of the equator. The Doldrums are where southern and northern hemisphere weather rotations collide and negate each other. Mostly there are very light winds here which will make for very slow progress but there are also some very volatile cloud formations and under any one of them could be gale force winds that can appear in just minutes so great vigilance is required of the crew.